Category Archives: Categories

What Juno About This Blizzard?

It’s 11 p.m. I’m going to bed.

I have no idea what will happen overnight.

But let’s crowdsource this potential life-altering, earth-orbit-altering storm*. When you read this — assuming you can, thanks to some sort of power source — please rate it:


* I will not refer to it by its fake, “name.” I used it in the headline only because I couldn’t help myself.


Jim Marpe: “Safety Is The Utmost Priority”

First Selectman Jim Marpe issued this statement, before the expected storm:

A blizzard warning is in effect throughout Connecticut, and is anticipated to heavily impact the area tonight through Tuesday.

Safety is the utmost priority. If there is a power outage, repairs will be made when it is safe to do so. At the height of the storm, due to high winds and potential for impassable roads, CL&P will not send linemen to repair downed wires until it is safe to do so.

Several factors make this storm dangerous:

  • Expected snow accumulations of 18-24 inches will make driving extremely dangerous, including possible whiteout conditions, tonight and into early Wednesday morning. Governor Malloy has announced that a travel ban for all roads is in effect beginning at 9 p.m. tonight.
  • Strong winds may result in downed electrical lines and loss of power.
  • Frigid temperatures may create additional hardships for some of our citizens, particularly the elderly.
  • There may be some shoreline flooding.

Proactive measures have been taken to prepare for the storm:

  • Westport sealWe have activated the town’s Emergency Operations Center.
  • Snow plows and supplies are ready. Key personnel will remain at a Public Works facility to ensure our streets become passable for emergency vehicles and residents in the shortest period possible.
  • CL&P is in continual contact with the town’s emergency management staff, and will have additional resources available to repair electrical problems.
  • Westport’s Emergency Operations Center is monitoring the situation and will provide emergency updates as necessary via CodeRED. Citizens with questions or concerns may contact the Emergency Operations Center (203-341-5000).
  • All schools and Town Hall will be closed on Tuesday.

Information and updates will be provided via the town’s website (, Facebook page ( and Twitter ( as well as Staples Radio WWPT (90.3 FM).

The Westport/Weston Health District has additional information on its website:

Contact CL&P at 1-800-286-2000 to report an outage or speak to a customer service representative.

It is recommended that residents take the following precautions:

  • Do not drive.
  • Do not park vehicles on any town road. Vehicles parked on town roads impede snow removal and prevent emergency vehicle access.  If a parked vehicle is impeding plowing operations or a public safety response, it will be towed.
  • In anticipation of an outage, residents may wish to increase the thermostat temperature in their homes a few degrees to build up residual heat.
  • Check on neighbors who may require additional assistance.
  • Subscribe to Westport’s CodeRED system, available through the town website (under Public Safety) to be notified of emergency situations.

woodstoveThe current expectation is that this will be a shelter-in-place event. The safest place to spend this evening and tomorrow is warm at home.

However, if you are using your fireplace or woodstove, please use utmost caution and let the ashes remain in the fireplace for several days until there are no remaining hot embers.

If you use portable space heaters in your home, be extremely careful and remember that space heaters require SPACE—nothing that can burn should be within three feet of any part of the heater.

A Rich Discussion

Friday’s New York Times ran a fascinating piece on the perils of money for young people. That’s an important topic of discussion in Westport.

But there was an even more specific connection here.

The hook for the story was the shooting murder of a hedge fund manager by his 30-year-old son. Apparently, the 2 had argued over the 30-year-0ld son’s “allowance.”

Writer Ron Lieber posed a few questions that his friends and peers were having:

How does it come to pass that a 30-year-old Princeton graduate still gets pocket money from his parents? What, if anything, went wrong in the way his parents raised him? And is there something about the environment that his mother and hedge-fund-running father raised him in that may have itself been damaging?

Affluent kids have many material things ...

Affluent kids have many material things …

Lieber answered himself:

We still don’t know very much about this one stranger and his mental health. Nor are we likely to ever get a full picture of his family, its values or the relationship between the father and the son. But in the last 15 years or so, academics have spent an increasing amount of time studying the affluent and what can ail them, and there is an emerging consensus that their children often have higher rates of depression and anxiety and elevated levels of substance abuse and certain delinquent behaviors.

Adding that “the well-off are human, too, and if some of their children are hurting, it’s indecent to mock or ignore them,” Lieber noted that academics have added studies of children of wealth, to their previous research into poverty.

He cites psychologist Suniya Luthar. She’s now a professor at Arizona State University, but while at Columbia University she embarked on a longitudinal study that included Westport students.

... and high expectations of "the good life" ...

… and high expectations of “the good life” …

Starting in 1999, Lieber says, she found that teenagers in higher-income families had higher rates of substance abuse of all kinds than those in lower-income ones; that the more affluent suburban kids stole from their parents more often than poorer city youth, and that those with more money were “more likely to experience clinically significant levels of depression, anxiety and physical ailments.” Many of those trends emerged in 7th grade.

According to Lieber, Luthar said that it’s easy for parents to pressure children, resulting in some of the problems cited above:

Many such parents enjoy their fulfilling, prestigious jobs and have a wide network of friends from their top-tier educational institutions. Most of them desperately want the same things for their own children, and why wouldn’t they? “This is the trap we can fall into,” she said.

... but parental pressures can be high.

… but parental pressures can be high.

Luthar notes that one of the most powerful risk factors for youngsters is “being highly criticized by your parents.”

She adds: “The most important thing is to keep ourselves and our children from getting swept up in the movement towards more being better, and the idea that ‘I can and therefore I must.’”

Readers’ reactions to the Times piece run the gamut, from finger-pointing at rich parents to cautions against minimizing real concerns about mental health.

It’s a fascinating story, with an intriguing discussion thread. To add your own thoughts, “06880”-style, click “Comments.”

Remembering Jack Adams

Jack Adams — the trumpeter who influenced thousands of Westport students and colleagues as a teacher, mentor and Southern-born mensch — died Wednesday night.

His music may be stilled. His distinctive drawl is gone. But his lessons and influence will live on for years.

Jack Adams

Jack Adams

“He was unbelievable — the best,” says Alice Lipson, who taught with him for 3 decades at Long Lots Junior High, and Staples High School.

In her 2nd year at Long Lots, Lipson was asked to direct “Bye Bye Birdie.” She was terrified. But with Adams directing the student pit, all was well.

“He had an extraordinary ability to bring out the best in kids,” Lipson adds. “He had a great way of communicating, and reaching everyone.”

Lipson loved hearing her colleague’s stories of his time as a young musician. In 1952 — newly arrived in New York from his native Kentucky — Adams met a similarly struggling Eydie Gorme. He knew greats like Miles Davis.

“He was a gift to everyone who met him. I will miss that sweet man,” she says.

Anthony Ryan — a 1987 Staples graduate — calls Adams “easily one of the top 3 teachers in my life. He inflamed my passion for music, rewarded my loyalty and hard work, and molded me into the man I am today.” The former junior high, high school and music camp student recalls Adams’ “guidance, discipline, humor and love,” and honors him not only for his lessons, but “my successful transition from boy to young man.”

Jack Adams teaches -- and plays with -- Staples freshman Ryan Price, in 1992.

Jack Adams teaches — and plays with — Staples freshman Ryan Price, in 1992.

Cindy Shuck took private lessons with Adams throughout middle and high school. “He was a big part of my growing up, and taught me discipline and responsibility through trumpet,” she says.

She still has her notebook, which he wrote in every week. She will always keep it “because it contains so many lessons, words of encouragement, lists that he lived by and overall music brilliance that he shared.”

A trio of Staples music department legends: band leader Jack Adams, choral director George Weigle and orchestra maestro John Hanulik.

A trio of Staples music department legends: band leader Jack Adams, choral director George Weigle and orchestra maestro John Hanulik.

Vern Sielert notes says of his band director and lesson teacher from 5th grade though high school:

I learned about the fundamentals of trumpet playing from him, but I learned so much more — about responsibility, professionalism, respect for the greats, discipline.

He took me to New York to see “42nd Street,” and introduced me to the trumpet section in the pit. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about concepts I learned from him, and share them with my students. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Mr. Adams.

Jon Owens began studying under Adams in 3rd grade, and continued through high school. Today he’s a professional musician. On Facebook, Owens wrote:

He taught me the fundamentals of trumpet playing that I still revert back to today. He always strived for excellenc,e and pushed me to become a better player. But more than that, he taught how to be a decent person. He had rock solid and unyielding standards of conduct and musicianship that were not waived for anyone. I pass on some of his sayings to my students: “It’s better to be an hour early than a minute late!”

As an adult, Owens cherished his visits with his former teacher. They shared stories of great musicians, played trumpets together, and listened to recordings.

Owens says Adams’ extensive record collection took up half his studio. He also collected rare instruments.

Jack Adams with Jonathan Owens, after the 1986 Memorial Day parade.

Jack Adams with Jonathan Owens, after the 1986 Memorial Day parade.

Owens sums up:

He was a legendary performer and bandleader as well as teacher. He made a positive impact on many, many lives, and that is something we should all strive for. He poured his heart and soul into everything he did, and our community was better off because of him. He was my mentor, and I would not be who I am today without Jack Adams. I let a few notes really hang out there tonight in his honor. I know he is looking down and smiling!




Java Sparked Breanna’s Spirit. Then She Sparked Ours

On November 20, 2013 — 2 days before her 25th birthday — Breanna Brandon arrived in Westport from Boise. She was the newly appointed manager of Java, the Idaho-based coffee shop about to open its 6th store here.

Breanna had never been to the East Coast. She’d decided to take the job 5 minutes after it was offered — “my whole life was in Idaho, but there was no reason not to come” — and then googled both “Westport” and “New England.”

She expected to see “a lot of celebrities. People who were blatantly rude. And I thought I’d get run over.”

Breanna quickly found out she was not in Kansas anymore. And certainly not Idaho.

The feeling she got here was “electric. It was like vibrations.” She still feels it today. She loves it.

Breanna Brandon, in Java, with a portrait of herself. For the back story, read on.

Breanna Brandon at Java, with a portrait of herself. For the back story, read on.

“In Idaho, people take more time. Here, if you have an idea, you can run with it. There’s a feeling here that people are so capable, so quick. It’s exhausting, but it’s so much fun.”

One day, an idle conversation led to the idea of Movie Nights at Java. By evening she had bought a projector and screen. Two weeks later, she screened her first film.

Breanna was a Java lifer. At the downtown Boise shop she worked her way up from night barista to kitchen chef, baker, then supervisor. Her earnings helped pay for college.

She loved the human connection she felt at the Idaho store. “It sparked my spirit,” she says.

Breanna Brandon, behind the Java counter.

Breanna Brandon, behind the Java counter.

That connection continued here. “There are 1.5 million people in Idaho, and 3.5 million in Connecticut,” she notes. “But you can fit 17 Connecticuts into Idaho.”

People here are not rude, she says. But they are busy.

“They don’t have time to wait in line,” Breanna explains. “But they’re honest. They told me what they didn’t like. They also told me what they loved.”

After just 11 months in business downtown, Java is closing on Wednesday (December 31).

“It breaks my heart,” says Breanna. “I’ve made connections that will last a lifetime. I’ve seen people evolve — have babies, come back from college. And they’ve seen me evolve.”

In its 11 months here, Java quickly became a favorite downtown gathering place.

In its 11 months here, Java quickly became a favorite downtown gathering place.

Breanna got as much out of living here as anyone could. She found an apartment on Craigslist near the train station. She went into New York often.

Locally, she put her political science background to use. She attended Town Hall meetings. She hoped to join the transit committee. She studied how the town operated, and says, “it runs really well. There are great schools, and an amazing sense of community.”

She also was thrilled to meet Governor Malloy, when he came to Java.

JavaBut on New Year’s Day, the beloved and funky coffee shop will close. SoNo Bakery takes over in a few weeks. Breanna hopes the new owners will keep most of the Java staff.

She’ll be back in Boise, though. Her family is there; so are some job offers. She’d like to get a masters degree in public policy, or maybe go to law school. Her goal is to work in government.

She hopes one day to live in Seattle. Or Brooklyn. Maybe even Westport.

“I love it here,” she says. “I survived. I feel like I really made it.”

Breanna touched many Westporters. Regulars — and 1st-time customers — loved her spirit, her energy, her openness.

One of her fans was Stephen Goldstein. The Westport artist creates portraits by hand-cutting license plates, then mounting them on painted aluminum.

His latest work hangs on a Java wall. It shows a smiling Breanna Brandon. Of course, it’s made from Idaho tags.

Stephen Goldstein's portrait of Breanna Brandon.

Stephen Goldstein’s portrait of Breanna Brandon.

“I’ll cherish it forever,” she says. “It’s coming home with me.”

Breanna will take that — and much more — from Westport back to Boise. Thankfully, she leaves a lot of Idaho goodness behind.




Steve And Rondi Hang With William And Kate

Steve Ruchefsky and Rondi Charleston

When Prince William and Kate — er, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge — attended last night’s black-tie fundraiser for the University of St. Andrews (their 600-year-old alma mater), Westporters Steve Ruchefsky and Rondi Charleston were in the house.

The house, of course, was the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Steve and Rondi scored their seats — 2 tables away from Will and Kate, in the Temple of Dendur — because a fellow board member of Steve’s company, Kite Pharma, is a St. Andrews alum.

The prince gave a lovely speech, Rondi says, and Renee Fleming sang. Seth Meyers spoke, and was quite funny.

So did Steve and Rondi get to chat with the royals?

Unfortunately, no. Rondi reports there was a strict “no schmoozing” protocol.


Prince William, last night at the Met.

Prince William, last night at the Met.

Steve Baumann’s New “Discovery”

If you grew up around here, your parents probably took you to the Discovery Museum and Planetarium. You might also have gone on a field trip with your school or Scout troop.

If you’re of a certain age, you remember when the Bridgeport institution — just down Park Avenue from Sacred Heart University — was called the Museum of Arts, Science and Industry.

Steve Baumann recalls all that. Now — after a career spent leading and invigorating children’s science museums from coast to coast (Liberty in New Jersey, Franklin in Philadelphia, Kidspace in Pasadena) — Baumann has returned to the place where his interest in education and kids began.

Steve Baumann

Steve Baumann

The new executive director of the Discovery Museum grew up in Westport. One of Staples’ all-time best athletes, he starred in soccer, basketball and baseball. After earning soccer All-America honors at the University of Pennsylvania, playing professionally in the North American Soccer League, earning a master’s in science education at the University of Virginia, then teaching and coaching at the high school and college levels, Baumann embarked on his museum career.

His new job may pose one of his toughest challenges ever.

Children’s museums have changed dramatically since Baumann’s youth. They’ve even changed since kids started using laptops and tablets, just a few years ago.

It’s no longer enough to ask a child to push an exhibit button, watch water flow over a dam, and call it education about hydro-power. Youngsters today have so many more stimuli in their lives — with access to interactive media everywhere they turn — that museum officials must work much harder at engagement.

But the payoff is great. Baumann is an enthusiastic ambassador for the idea that once children are engaged, they nurture their creativity. They explore the world around, and find — hopefully — a lifelong passion for nature, physics, engineering, architecture, whatever.

That’s called “discovery.” And that’s why the Discovery Museum is a perfect fit for the new director.

There is plenty for kids to see at the Discovery Museum. Steve Baumann's challenge is to get them even more engaged.

There is plenty for kids to see at the Discovery Museum. Steve Baumann’s challenge is to get them even more involved.

Last week, Baumann took me on a tour of his new digs. In some places the 50-year-old museum showed its age. In others it was fresh, vibrant and resonant.

It was the same with the exhibits. As one of only 43 Challenger Learning Centers in the country, the Discovery Museum’s new state-of-the-art facility offers kids a chance to become “astronauts” and “engineers” as they solve real-world problems on a simulated flight to Mars.

But the “spaceship” needs an overhaul. And the Challenger center itself relies heavily on computers and monitors, which kids can find anywhere.

It’s the same with “Springs, Sprockets and Pulleys.” The very cool art exhibit features Steve Gerberich’s art made from  old machine parts, kitchen utensils, furniture scraps, lighting fixtures, medical supplies and toys. Sculptures move, change forms, even make music.

But, Baumann points out, that’s all they do. He’d like to see a section of the room filled with random stuff scattered about. After viewing Gerberich’s creations, youngsters could have the chance to make their own.

As they do, educators would chat with the kids about the process: What would they like to make? How could they do it? What else would they do with the materials at hand? What else do they wish they’d have?

Steve Baumann at the "Sprockets" exhibit. He wants to take the engagement process a few steps further.

Steve Baumann at the “Sprockets” exhibit. He wants to take the engagement process a few steps further.

“That’s really what education is about,” Baumann says. “It’s not just curating an exhibit. It’s bringing those exhibits into the 21st century, so kids are motivated to explore, investigate, and find out that science and creativity are fun.”

Similarly, he points to the Discovery Museum’s well-equipped classrooms. “These are great,” he notes. “But when kids come on a field trip, and they’re all excited to be here, the first thing they see shouldn’t be another classroom.”

Too many museum directors, he says, are not schooled in pedagogy. His goal is to inspire kids to have “a love of learning how to learn.” He loves watching youngsters struggle to find solutions — and smile as they do it.

He believes the museum has an opportunity to reinvent itself, at a time when public interest in science education is high. The opening 2 years ago of the adjacent Adventure Park was a great step toward engaging people both in the city of Bridgeport, and the suburbs around it.

Discovering science and more, at the Discovery Museum.

Discovering science and more, at the Discovery Museum.

Just as the wildly popular ropes course challenges children (and older folks) to solve problems, so will the reimagined Discovery Museum inspire them to think about the world in new and different ways.

Baumann never wants to stop learning himself. He’d enjoy hearing innovative ideas about the museum from anyone — youngsters, parents, benefactors, corporations, folks who (like him) remember it fondly from their long-ago youth.

You can email him:

Or — better yet — stop by the Discovery Museum, and see it for yourself.

Noting Notable Trees

Westport has 39 notable trees. They include maples, chestnuts, beeches, tulips, spruces, oaks and more.

That’s not my statistic. It’s not tree warden Bruce Lindsay’s.

It’s the number listed on the Notable Trees Project website. Established in 1985 , it’s a volunteer effort sponsored by the Connecticut Botanical Society, Connecticut College Arboretum and Connecticut Urban Forest Council.

A computer database maintained at the Arboretum includes records of 3362 individual trees in the state: size, location, ownership and condition. You can search by scientific name, common name, species or town.

But if you want to see those notable trees, you’re on your own. Exact locations are not given (something about permission from private owners).

This Main Street tree is pretty notable.

This Main Street tree is pretty notable.

One intriguing link on the site lists “Charter Oak Descendants.” Westport is not there.

Supposedly, a seedling from Connecticut’s most famous tree grew in the courtyard of Staples High School, when it was built on North Avenue in 1958. No one remembers exactly where, though. Apparently it was destroyed in the modernization project of 1978 — or the most recent one, a decade ago.

The website is an interesting project. Let’s hope — after so much Bunyanesque action here — that all 39 “notable trees” still stand.

(Hat tip to Gloria Gouveia)


From Brooklyn To Westport, With Love

Last spring, Nico Eisenberger’s 3-year-old daughter announced during breakfast, “I’m going outside.” She got up from the table, and strolled outside to play. Neither he nor his wife, Robin Bates, worried.

Much as they loved Brooklyn — where they lived until last December — that could never have happened there, he says.

Nico, Robin and their 3 young daughters have been Westporters less than a year. But they leaped into local life. He’s become active in the Greens Farms Congregational Church. They’ve marched in the Memorial Day parade, and hosted neighborhood parties.

And — as a tour of their lovingly restored 1903 home shows — they hope to keep Westport’s heritage alive.

Nico Eisenberger (3rd from left) and his wife Robin Bates (holding child) accept a Westport Historical Society plaque designating their house as dating to 1903 from Bob Weingarten. At the ceremony were the couple's 3 children, and Peter Jennings (far left), an 11th-generation Westporter and descendant of original owner Henry Jennings. (Photo/Dave Matlow, courtesy of WestportNow)

Nico Eisenberger (3rd from left) and his wife Robin Bates (holding child) accept a Westport Historical Society plaque designating their house as dating to 1903 from Bob Weingarten. At the ceremony were the couple’s 3 children, and Peter Jennings (far left), an 11th-generation Westporter and descendant of original owner Henry Jennings. (Photo/Dave Matlow, courtesy of WestportNow)

Nico — who works in the clean energy field — grew up in Somerset County, New Jersey. Robin — a digital marketer — is from Toronto. They rented in Park Slope for 2 years, then bought a beautiful brownstone with a hot tub on the roof.

But as their girls grew — they’re now 8, 7 and 4 — the family needed more room. Nico and Robin searched all around the tri-state area. They were ready to buy a great 6-acre place in Bedford, New York, but realized they would miss not being near water.

A Brooklyn neighbor suggested Westport. They saw a number of houses here, but none stood out. As they were ready to leave, their realtor Janet Anderson suggested a house on the corner of Beachside Avenue and Beachside Commons.

It was love at first sight.

The open floor plan, light, and proximity to Burying Hill Beach and the Green’s Farms train station appealed to them. “Everything just felt right,” Nico says.

The wide veranda offers fantastic views.

The wide veranda offers fantastic views.

The house originally stood on 20 acres. It was built by Henry A. Jennings, and passed through only 2 other owners. There was horror fiction writer Peter Straub, then Roy and Laurie Witkin. That couple “saw in us an echo of who they were when they moved in 25 years ago,” Nico says.

The  Witkins — who have remained friendly with the new owners — introduced Nico and Robin to neighbors on tight-knit Beachside Commons.

Children wander in and out of each other’s homes, and chatter together at the communal bus stop. The parents have a “proverbial ‘borrowing butter’ relationship,” Nico says.

The 1st year has been all Nico and Robin expected — and more. He’s coached his girls in soccer and softball. They’ve rowed, sailed and kayaked on nearby New Creek. They look forward to watching their oldest perform in “The Nutcracker” at the Westport Country Playhouse.

Nico Eisenberger stands in the open, airy front of the house.

Nico Eisenberger stands in the open, airy front of the house.

“Westport is close enough to the city that people’s expectations of culture are rooted there,” Nico says.

“But it’s far enough away that it’s not just a bedroom community. People have a strong sense of self. They want to make this place great.”

One way is through environmental awareness. Soon after they moved here, Earthplace hosted an informational event about solar panels and thermal imaging.

“It was a Wednesday night in mid-winter, and 25 people were there!” Nico remembers. “There were energy efficiency vendors, and wine and food. That really said something about Westport.”

Socially, Nico says, he and Robin have found friends through their children’s schools, coaching, and by attending events. They’ve made it their mission to go places: the Westport Arts Center, Historical Society, anything that piques their interest.

On the 4th of July they wandered over to a Cedar Point Yacht Club party. They felt very welcomed — and were immediately offered a spot on a race crew.

The rear of the house, off Beachside Avenue.

The rear of the house, off Beachside Avenue.

“We love the creative, eclectic, open spirit” of Westport, Nico says. “There are parks, restaurants, excellent schools — and a river runs through it.”

One downside: downtown. “On the surface it’s charming and compact,” he says. “But I haven’t figured out what to do there.” He and Robin have gone to meetings, providing input about the future of downtown.

Closer to home, they’ve spent a year on their historic home. The Jennings family has spent 11 generations in Westport, and they are treating Henry Jennings’ home with the love it deserves.

Nico Eisenberger and Robin Bates have retained many of the original fixtures.

Nico Eisenberger and Robin Bates have retained many of the original fixtures.

They’ve restored parts of the house — the sweeping veranda and old-fashioned basement — while retaining many aspects that give it so much charm. “We are just stewards of this house,” Nico says. “It is our job to pass it on.”

Many longtime Westporters — including yours truly — regularly rail at the teardown mentality of our town.

Nico and Robin are new Westporters. But they have a different view.

“Westport has done a better job than other communities of not succumbing to McMansions everywhere,” Nico says.

“There’s good housing stock here. People care about this place.”

And — with newcomers like Nico Eisenberger and Robin Bates — it seems our future is in very good, loving hands.



Marion Howard: Not In My (Septic) Back Yard

On Wednesday morning — despite pleas to the contrary — the board of selectmen approved a sewer project.

Marion Howard is not pleased.

She lives on Bulkley Road North. About 15 years ago, she says, a resident on the east (Sasco Creek) side of the street circulated a petition. It asked the town to extend sewers north from Old Road, to include parts of Bulkley. At the time, 50 percent of the homeowners needed to sign such a petition for it to be considered.

Since then, Marion says, the minimum requirement was raised to 75%. The reason, she explains, is recognition that sewer projects require homeowners to pay assessments.

Some Bulkley Avenue North homeowners want sewers. Others do not.

Some Bulkley Avenue North homeowners want sewers. Others do not. (Photo/Google Maps)

Marion claims that since the original petition was submitted there have been substantive changes to the proposed project, adding other streets and locations. However, Marion says, the petition was grandfathered in at 50% of homeowners, not the current 75%  — and it included all those who had previously signed. However, she says, many properties changed hands in the ensuing 15 years.

Marion says that when she bought her home — after the original petition was circulated — she was not told that a potential assessment was in progress. She also says the town did not poll existing homeowners, which was one reason the project was stopped a year ago.

For homeowners like her, who attended a previous assessment meeting, the estimate per family was placed at approximately $10,000-15,000, she says. On Tuesday — the day before yesterday’s meeting — she received a letter putting the estimate per property at $17,166. She fears the cost estimate could balloon even higher.

She adds that a sewer is “not even necessary” for her property. Her septic system was built for a 5-bedroom home, but there are only 3 occupants. (The request for a sewer, she says, came about because the lower elevation on the east side of Bulkley makes those homes more vulnerable to septic issues.)

And she wonders how many other such petitions or potential assessments are also in the works.